three ballerinas dancing

Finding your outlet: how dance helped my mental health

Writing has always been a passion of mine, but when it comes to my mental health, I’ve never been able to find the right words to express myself. Although learning to talk about how you’re feeling is really important, finding another outlet can be just as beneficial. For me this outlet is dance. When words failed me, I dance.

My story with dance began when I was about 15. I had danced a little when I was younger and decided to pick it back up at GCSE. Studying the theory and technical background to different styles and aspects of dance opened my mind to just how impactful this art form could be. I began to choreograph and dance with a purpose. I became a storyteller. This new outlook helped me to work through emotions that I was feeling at the time. Emotions that I hadn’t been able to properly process before.

When I joined the university dance society four years later my relationship with dance changed again. I was exposed to new choreographers and teaching styles. The dances that I was learning had more meaning behind them, they dealt with stories and issues that were more complicated and raw than anything I’d danced before. They helped me to find a new kind of freedom and a deeper sense of expression. I learnt lessons about myself as a dancer, a performer and a person.

People are often aware of the benefits to your mental health that come with the physical aspect of dance, but it was the creativity and passion that really helped me.

Creative outlets can provide healthy ways of working through complicated emotions like anger and fear. They allow you to channel your feelings into something meaningful whilst teaching you new skills. This, in turn, can be a great confidence booster. Dance gave me a confidence boost that not only lifted my spirits but helped me to communicate better in other aspects of my life.

One of the best things about finding a creative outlet is that creativity has no limit. You aren’t constrained by the boundaries that exist in much of daily life. If you can imagine it you can create it. This freedom of expression will take over your whole body.

Whilst dance works wonders for me, it’s not for everyone. Other common creative outlets include drawing, painting, writing and playing music, scrapbooking, photography, makeup, programming, baking, fashion and so many more. Honestly, the list is endless. As long as it gets your creative juices flowing its worth a shot.

The main point I am trying to make is that finding your own creative outlet is powerful. Talking can be really hard, so don’t force it. Express yourself in whatever way you can, and eventually, the words will come.